Picture of Jepson Hall on a Sunny Day

There's No Such Thing as a Soulmate (College)

June 20, 2024
A post by Beth Anne Spacht, Associate Director of Admission

No I'm not a cynic.

I do, however, consider the concept of finding your perfect college fit overly romanticized in the culture of U.S. higher education. We’ve all seen viral videos of students crying happy tears over their college acceptance; and for sure, there is no better feeling than when you’ve found the place that you belong (and get in!). We want that for you, we really do. But, if you’re reading this post and thinking there’s something going wrong in your college search because you haven’t had that feeling you keep hearing you’re going to have when you find “the one” …please know that you’re not alone. It’s also not a sign that you’ll be miserable in your college experience. 

In fact, not putting all your eggs in one college basket – at least to me – is a signal that you’re going to be just fine! Ideally a few places have piqued your attention for one reason or another. Perhaps you envision yourself playing soccer at Institution A, or you are super excited about the biology research underway at University B, or the location of University C speaks to you. It’s unlikely that every school will have every single one of the elements you’re seeking, but what matters most is that the scale tips toward having enough of what you like to be satisfied. And that can be found more than one place! When a student is so laser focused on their top choice school during the admission process that they stop entertaining what the experience could look like elsewhere, that’s when I start to get a bit worried.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with having a top-choice option. We have binding Early Decision application plans precisely because we hope that some students will see Richmond as the place they want to be. If that’s you, great. Applying Early Decision can give your application a boost, but it isn’t a guarantee of admission. Plus, there are plenty of people who may love the school but cannot opt into this application plan for one reason or another (often because they ultimately need to weigh college options financially). My advice? Guard your heart by falling in “like” with a future college home, but keep an open mind. If it works out and you’re admitted, hopefully you get your happily ever after. And if it doesn’t work out, having kept your heart open means knowing you can find happiness somewhere else, too!

In short, here’s my hot take: there is no one perfect school out there. I firmly believe that with a positive mindset, any school can provide a wonderful college experience. Remember that you can enjoy almost every element of an institution – the food, the school spirit, the strength of the academic programs or the way that they care for students – and still find something you’d wish to change. Universities are designed to be places of growth, challenge, and development…but the reality is that nowhere is 100% perfect, there are plenty of fish (or college homes) in the sea, and sometimes the best fit might actually be a place that challenges you to learn to love it.

Ultimately, you'll find where you're meant to be, "soulmate" match or not.